The first thing to know is that there are no set rules to light your annexe. Everyone has a different idea about what type of lights they like and the level of light that is pleasing to them. Some people like pockets of light for a homely feel and others a bright and airy feel. Whatever you prefer it’s worth building a degree of flexibility into your design so you can change the feel and ambience of the room if, and when you want to.
The size of your room
Consider the size of the room before doing anything. This may sound silly, but lots of people just don’t. Perhaps because we all remember the days when you just had a light bulb hanging in the middle of the room and that was that.
Some say a bare hanging bulb seemed to do the job. The bulb was probably a much brighter bulb than we have today. It may have been as much as a 150 watt bulb. Did it really do the job anyway? We expect a little more from our lighting these days. The light fitting has become part of the decoration in the room and is not there just there to give light. Having said that, it is part of a light fitting’s job description to provide light, so what job do you want it to provide for you? How much light is need in the room? There is a formula to give you a good starting point, all you need is find the number of metres square of your room and times that number by 25.
For example a room 4 metres by 3 meters will be 12 square metres
4 x 3 = 12 metres square
12 x 25 = 300 watts (3000 lumens)
Don’t forget to measure your ceiling height as not all ceiling heights are the same. You don’t want to fit a light that hangs too low or a light that is so high that you need to hire scaffolding, or buy a big ladder to change a bulb. There are lights for high ceilings and lights for low ceilings but it’s worth working out the minimum and maximum height at which your light fitting can hang.
Dare to be different!
If the ceiling is very high consider increasing the light level. A light fitting with more bulbs or extra table lamps will help. If the room is to be painted in dark colours you will also need to increase your light level as dark colours absorb light, whilst lighter colours help to reflect light.
Consider how the room will be used and what function should each light perform?
Open plan living and multi functional rooms will need special consideration.
For example, you may need different types of light for specific functions. A kitchen/diner will need brighter lights, such as spotlights, for the food preparation area. You don’t want to be chopping the veg, in a dimly lit room. On the other hand you may want to incorporate a dimmer for a more atmospheric light for that romantic dinner.
In all lighting designs it is recommended that you have layers of light. This will also provide you with the flexibility to control your light and create a different ambience and feel in the room.
Layers of light
So what is meant by layers of light? This is simply a good general light level plus mood lights for areas of interest and task lighting for reading, homework, cleaning and cooking where a good strong light is needed.
General light – sometimes described as ambient lighting. This is typically a central light but not always. Some period properties have mainly wall lights as their general light. A general light is the light that you switch on to give you enough light to see when you are in the room.
Mood lighting – this may be table lamps, wall lights or picture lights that give added interest and highlight interesting objects or features within the room. This level of light is the most creative and allows you to put some depth, charm and personality into the room. This is the bit that is the most fun and also the bit most people worry about. It may be worth wandering around the room with a lamp and trying it in different places. Hold it in close to the wall, at lower levels, next to your favourite object and feature in the room and if you like the effect try to replicate it with either fixed wall lights or table lamps. It may be worth talking to us if you are looking for a particular lighting effect as we may have other suggestions or know of new products that could help you achieve the look you want.
Task lights – this is a brighter light where you need it and when you need it. The most common use of task lighting is as a reading light. This could be a floor lamp next to the arm chair, a desk light or a bedside table lamp. And don’t forget the kitchen – maybe some under cupboard lighting to give lots of light on the worktops or a good strong light above the sink or cooker, so you are not working in shadows.
It’s easy to design your lighting with just a little thought before you buy your lights.